Weekend Round-Up – Cinecity Diary 17th & 18th November – Robot and Frank & The Hunt
This weekend has been a good one for a film lover. Not in the fact that I have been on a marathon of film watching, fitting in 15 films over the two days ( an achievement I am proud to say I have notched on to my belt ), but it is always nice to go to the cinema and see films that you wouldn’t normally have showing in your local Multiplex.
Cinecity is now in full swing and showing some great features both at Duke of York’s Picturehouse and all around the city.
On Saturday night we had a screening of ‘Robot and Frank’ and last night I got to see ‘The Hunt’. I was supposed to see ‘War Witch’ yesterday afternoon, but unfortunately as happens so often, the best laid plans didn’t pan out! I am gutted actually as a friend of mine went and said it was a hard but fulfilling watch. Damn
Anyway here are my thoughts on the two films I did see.
Robot and Frank could be described as 2012’s best buddy flick – a funny, sad and ultimately inspiring tale of two unlikely friends who are not just from different worlds, but actually two different types of life form. It is a story of a man who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and his children choose to give him a caregiving robot. This all sounds like the set up for a cheesy mainstream comedy, but Frank Langella is fantastic as Frank and brings such humanity that is truly authentic that we completely buy into this wacky premise.
When the film opens we meet Frank, who is pretty hopeless. Muddling through life in a house he used to share with his long since divorced wife. He is undisciplined and aimless, all of which is not helped by the Alzheimer’s he is starting to suffer from. Frank’s son, Hunter played by James Marsden turns up and unloads Frank’s new helper in the form of a robot. Frank’s disdain is clear..
“It’ll kill me in my sleep”
Before long Frank warms to the robot and as his tolerances grow he notices that this thing might have some key skills that will come in handy. Frank you see is a retired Jewel thief, and was one of the best in the world. He is long since retired and served his time. But this doesn’t stop him in challenging the robot to see how good he is at picking locks….
Pretty good actually. Robot and Frank swiftly turns into a nifty little caper movie with a little romance thrown in as Frank pursues the affections of the local librarian played by Susan Sarandon.
As a debut feature from both Screenwriter and Director, Robot and Frank is a triumph. The visual style is simple yet clean with only a dashing of near-future tech. The screenplay seems to follow all the normal film conventions. This works because the film never tries to be over ambitious, never over staying its welcome. Even the sub-plots are there to underline the main plot rather than going off in separate directions. It is a fleeting and emotional movie with a twist that you should have seen coming, but because of the simple way it is laid out, it is a complete surprise.
Robot and Frank probably will not win any major awards, nor will it get a large cinema release, but for those who do get to see the film will be touched and leave with a smile on their face and warmth in their heart. This is no modest achievement and one that many big time hollywood film makers fail miserably at. I hope that the first timers here, Christopher D Ford and Jake Shreirer (Writer and Director respectively) get the exposure they deserve and move onwards to bigger things.
The Hunt is a film that has been picking up many awards and stellar reviews this year whilst doing the festival circuit. So when it hit Cinecity on Sunday night I was quite excited to see what all of the fuss was about.
Mikkelsen plays Lucas, a teacher from a small village in Denmark. He was made redundant when the local school closed and now helps out at the local nursery. It is the sort of village where everyone knows your name and everyone is close and tightly knit. Lucas is liked by everyone in town, that is, until he is accused of molesting children in the nursery where he works. His life is quickly thrown to the wolves as a modern-day witch hunt ensues. All helped by the narrow sighted locals, who use to call him a friend, and the inept authorities dealing with the complaints.
The tone of the film isn’t as dark as you would expect, there are even moments of humour laced within this uncomfortable story. The film is painted in very broad strokes with Lucas going through a series of humiliation scenes depicting the villagers feeling about the accused teacher.
The film is driven by the Danish actor, and it is easy to see why Mikkelsen is getting so much praise for his compassionate and charismatic turn. It is a shame that the story loses steam in the middle act and his performance isn’t enough to save it.
The Hunt is an interesting look at society as a whole and the way that we could so easily form this type of modern-day Witch Hunt when our children are involved. It is effective at conveying its central theme, but it does seem overly long and suffers from some serious lag in the middle section. A few tense moments and enjoyable scenes are evident, but The Hunt is no way as strong as it needs to be.
CINECITY BRIGHTON FILM FESTIVAL WILL RUN FROM 15TH NOVEMBER TO 2ND DECEMBER 2012 FOR MORE INFO VISIT THEHOMEPAGE HERE